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I think John Smoltz has earned a bad start after what he has done for the Braves this season. It's just too bad it had to come against the Mets. The veteran right-hander struggled with his control as the Mets downed the Braves 6-3, to bring the season series within one game.
It was bad right from the get-go. Smoltz just could not find the strikezone, which undoubtedly had to do with his shoulder. If today's game tells us anything, it's that cold weather is not going to be Smoltz's friend this season. After eclipsing the 3,000-strikeout mark in his last start, Smoltz lasted only four innings before being removed for a pinch hitter. He walked only two but gave up seven hits including homeruns to Raul Casanova and Carlos Delgado, who would homer again in the game. The bullpen was decent today but it was blatantly obvious that Bobby was trying to save some arms after having to go there extensively yesterday. Will Ohman, whose job is to handle one-to-two batters at a time was left in for two innings. A positive was Chris Resop, who pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts. He definitely has an up-hill battle to put him back in a good light and rolling through the top of the Mets' order like that should help.
It seemed like no matter how hard the offense hit the ball, there was a Met standing right at the other end. I can't tell you how many times I sat there shaking my head and saying "how did that not fall?". The climax of this was probably Mark Teixeira's bullet out to right-center which Mets rightfielder Ryan Church made a very impressive play on. There were some good things out of the offense though. Mark Teixeira really seems to be coming around and both Frenchy and McCann hit the ball well also. Mark Kotsay was another guy who looked good at the plate and with the recent play of Gregor Blanco, it couldn't come at a better time for him. On the other hand, Kelly Johnson and especially Gregor Blanco really had poor at-bats. Both drew a walk but they also went 0-8 combined with a number of weakly hit balls. With a right-hander on the mound, that's not something you want to see from those two.
The Braves have a timely off-day tomorrow, followed up by a three-game set against the last-place Nationals. Hopefully this can get us back on track. As a side note, Tim Hudson threw about 30-40 times in the outfield before today's game. If he were injured, the team would have shut him down so this is a good sign.